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MARGUERITA MUSSELMAN v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (01/05/79)

decided: January 5, 1979.

MARGUERITA MUSSELMAN, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WELFARE, RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the Department of Public Welfare in case of Appeal of Marguerita Musselman, dated May 4, 1977.

COUNSEL

Niles Schore, for petitioner.

Edward P. Carey, Assistant Attorney General, with him Linda M. Gunn, Assistant Attorney General, for respondent.

Judges Mencer, Blatt and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge MacPhail.

Author: Macphail

[ 39 Pa. Commw. Page 538]

Marguerita Musselman (Claimant) appeals from an order of the Department of Public Welfare (DPW) affirming the delay in transfer of Aid for Dependent Children (AFDC) benefits by the Columbia County Board of Assistance (Board) from Claimant's mother to Claimant by reason of the transfer of physical custody

[ 39 Pa. Commw. Page 539]

    of the Claimant's minor child from Claimant's mother to the Claimant.

Factually, the record shows that the child in question had lived with her grandparents since birth in 1973, except for a period of one month when she resided with the Claimant. On March 4, 1977, the child began to live with her mother again. There is some dispute as to whether the first notice that this event was going to occur was given on February 16, 1977, or on February 22, 1977. However, we are of the opinion that that date is not relevant to a disposition of the issue raised before us. On March 13, 1977, the change of physical custody was verified by a Board caseworker's home visit. Previously, the Claimant had been asked to arrange a meeting among the Claimant, the caseworker and the Claimant's mother. This the Claimant said could not be arranged because of her mother's antagonistic attitude toward the transfer of custody.

Claimant began to receive AFDC benefits for the child as of April 5, 1977. The grandparents received the child's AFDC benefits for the month of March.

The dispute is whether the Board acted promptly to secure a transfer of benefits from the grandparents to the Claimant. Claimant says the Board did not do so, and thus they were in violation of pertinent regulations of the Department, the provisions of the Pennsylvania Public Welfare Code and the provisions of the Social Security Act.

The Board and the Department found from the record that the Claimant herself did not comply with reasonable requests, made by the Claimant's caseworker, to ascertain that the change in physical custody not only had occurred but was going to be permanent. They also found that once it ...


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